Have you ever felt that you often find yourself overwhelmed by or unprepared for problems you faced in adult life despite a good education? We depend on schools to provide us with quality education and prepare us for life, often spending massive amounts of money in the process. Is it really enough though just to learn from classroom teaching?

The school system relies heavily on classroom teaching when it comes to education. In fact, an average child spends almost 90% of his school life in the classroom, save for the annual field trip or weekly PT periods. While classroom teaching prepares children for exams and tests, does it really prepare them to face the real world? School life is a much-protected bubble; children only interact with their parents, friends, and teachers. When they do break out of this bubble, is their education enough to help them cope with and achieve success in the real world?

“Learning is Creation, not consumption. Knowledge is not something a learner absorbs, but something a learner creates. – George Couros

Emotional Intelligence

Do you find yourself unable to communicate effectively or inexplicably stressed out? Do you often run away from conflict instead of dealing with it maturely? Developing your EQ might be a solution to your problems.

Emotional intelligence (often known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Psychologist Daniel Goleman even suggests that EQ might be more important than IQ for a child and I can’t agree more.

Most psychologists agree that most standards of measuring intelligence, or IQ, are perhaps too narrow to encompass the full range of human intelligence. Neither does a high IQ guarantee a successful life. However, studies have found that the most successful individuals do have high EQ.

The traditional classroom setting, however, does not have space for the development of EQ.

Emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.

Travis Bradberry (from the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0)

Nurturing Creativity

We are continually looking for something new. Be it clothes, or technology, or movies; you name it, a novel idea performs the best. In contrast, something we’ve seen before seems dull and boring.

Human beings are creative and inventive by nature. Creativity and innovation are the most sought-after qualities in every field. However, if we limit children to only classroom teaching, they do not get a chance to develop these qualities.

Creativity thrives on experimentation and exploration, something that classrooms see very little of. If we limit ourselves to the age-old curriculum of textbooks and assignments, we run the risk of turning into mindless sheep that follow the herd. To stand out from the herd, children need to be independent thinkers who can innovate and improvise modern solutions for the contemporary world.

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Empathy and Compassion

The global pandemic has made us realize the importance of empathy and compassion more than anything else. For children to be good leaders and pioneers of the modern world, it is paramount that they learn to empathize with and develop compassion for others.

Helen Reiss, psychologist, and the author believes that the ability to connect through empathy and act with compassion is critical to our lives and helps us thrive as a society.

Classrooms teach the definition of empathy and compassion, and students dutifully memorize them but rarely learn to practice them.

Good Communication Skills

How many times have you heard a teacher say, ‘Stop talking!’ or ‘Pin-drop silence!’? As children, we are continuously asked to shut up and be silent, yet we wonder why we cannot communicate effectively as adults. The truth is that it is neither the fault of the teachers nor the child; the traditional classroom structure just does not leave room for developing communication skills. While we emphasize listening to the teacher, we never learn to listen to our peers. As adults, we need to, at the very least, be able to vocalize our viewpoint and listen to others when they share theirs. Be it work or personal relationships, good communication skills are essential for a happy, stress-free life.

Still, it remains an often-ignored part of classroom learning. It has been observed that children educated in arts such as music, dance, and theatre develop excellent communication skills. The arts enable kids to connect verbally, physically, and emotionally with their peers, teachers, and audiences. They learn to understand and empathize with all kinds of people and eventually turn out to be well-rounded, vibrant individuals. Learning to communicate with different types of people effectively is a lifelong journey. However, an education in the arts makes this journey a lot smoother.

The importance of curiosity

The most frequently asked question by children (also most dreaded by parents) ‘Why?’. This is because children are inquisitive by nature. Everything is a new experience for them. This curiosity is what makes them such fast learners. Consider this: a child learns to speak relatively quickly, whereas adults learning a new language takes a long time.

Curiosity is what makes learning fun and exciting. It helps keep your mind open and active and opens up new possibilities. A curious mind is the best tool for innovation.

However, this curiosity is weeded out of children by adhering to set structures of learning. We need to give children room to explore and innovate and stimulate their minds so that learning becomes something they anticipate rather than something they dread.

To sum it up:

Each child is unique and different, yet we put them through a standardized learning and evaluation method. We need new ways and forms of learning that let each child discover their potential and aids their growth, rather than making all of them conform to the same standard. Knowledge needs to be accessible and fun for everyone. A classroom should not feel like a prison; it should be a place that is fun, interactive and caters to the needs of every child.

Just thinking!